JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (Sept. 12, 2014) -- The arrival of the 614th Contingency Contracting Team in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in August signals the first deployment of a contracting team in support of combat operations for the Army Contracting Command since integrating uniformed members at contracting offices across the country.Mission and Installation Contracting Command officials received a short-notice deployment order for a five-member team in July. Operations officials at the headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston worked closely with the MICC Field Directorate Office at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, to assess teams, consider augmentation needs and identify the team from MICC-Fort Benning, Georgia. Previously, individual Soldiers were selected to deploy forward and fall into a team once in country."The objective was to deploy a complete team through the entire process, which includes training, deploying forward and operating as a team," said Art Jackson, the chief of the MICC Current Operations Division here. "We went to a specific unit at Fort Benning; that's the first time the Army Contracting Command has deployed a contingency contracting team from within the continental United States."According to ACC operations officials, the command has previously sent individual contracting officers into a combat theater but not teams.The Expeditionary Contracting Command's 408th Contracting Support Brigade at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, maintains a forward presence in the CENTCOM AOR. After accomplishing all necessary requirements, members from the 614th CCT deployed and stood up an operation in the CENTCOM AOR that reports to the 408th CSB."They were able to go from notification to being in theater in less than 45 days," said Mike Kuppers, the MICC deployment operations officer here. "In that time, they completed home station training, medical readiness, pre-deployment preparedness, and had the opportunity for a week of block leave to spend time with their families."INTEGRITY TEST
ACC officials announced in January 2013 its plans for integrating Soldiers in the 51C contracting military occupational specialty across its centers and MICC contracting offices to streamline the span of control of Soldiers assigned stateside and enhance professional development. The MICC's role was to broaden their contracting skills and proficiency by pairing the Soldiers alongside seasoned civilian contracting professionals while completing acquisition certification requirements. Soldiers would then put those skills to the test when called upon to deploy.Soldiers attached to the MICC are part of the more than 38,000 members of the Army Acquisition workforce whose execution of the acquisition mission keeps Soldiers well-equipped, well-protected and prepared for mission success.MICC officials said the deployment of a team marks a significant milestone for the command as an organization. Previously, the ECC provided contracting support to deployed locations on an individual replacement basis. The MICC now joins ECC in providing the ACC with the capability of additional contingency contracting personnel and units to support combatant commanders worldwide, Kuppers said.
Kuppers added that supporting a combat capability as an organization validates architecture in place to meet the Army's intent of aligning units to supported units. He explained that a contracting support brigade deploys in support of an Army corps, a contingency contracting battalion in support of a division, and contingency contracting teams in support of a brigade combat teams."The accomplishment of this mission illustrates to the Army why it is important to maintain the contingency contracting infrastructure," Jackson said. "Even though we've always supported the mission down range, this opportunity validates our ability to deploy our numbered units from within the United States."The deployment is also the first since the integration of uniformed members at contracting offices across the command.LOCAL IMPACT
Contracting offices across the MICC provide on-the-job training for approximately 450 Soldiers in the 51C MOS. Their attachment in 2013 came at a time when contracting offices were unable to add civilian employees for two years due to a hiring freeze.Steve Sullivan, the director of MICC-Fort Benning, said the short-notice nature of the deployment shifted the contracting office's primary attention to making sure Soldiers were ready to deploy and had their personal affairs, to include powers of attorney, family care plans, weapons, etc., in order.The MICC-Fort Benning deputy director said that groundwork included preparing the team to arrive in austere conditions with limited support."To facilitate any training gaps, the contracting office developed toolkits and training packages for the Soldiers," Brenda Clark said. "We had guides, checklists and especially a construction training presentation that Soldiers and units took with them for reference. We learned these documents came in handy when they arrived at their base with no computer support."Although the intent of attaching Soldiers to contracting offices was to train for deployment, they were quickly immersed in a variety of acquisitions from simple to more complex buys that helped alleviate workload challenges for many offices.
MICC-Fort Benning is responsible for providing installation contracting support for the garrison and varied activities including the largest logistics readiness center's base operations and dining facility contracts in the DOD; a multi-million dollar multiple award task order contract for Maneuver Center of Excellence support; and the Western Hemisphere Institute for Economic Security requiring translation services for instruction to Central and Latin American soldiers training on the installation.To mitigate the impact of losing the team of Soldiers, operations officials at the MICC headquarters coordinated the deployment tasking with the command's field directorate office at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, which oversees MICC-Fort Benning. MICC FDO-Fort Eustis leaders were able to coordinate additional resources from other subordinate contracting offices to support Fort Benning requirements.NEW MINDSET
The MICC was established as a Tables of Distribution and Allowances unit. TDA organizations are usually considered to be non-deployable. Jackson said the attachment of Soldiers began a shift in that mindset. Soldiers are assigned to ECC but attached to the MICC for professional development. Once called upon to deploy, the unit would then return as an ECC asset."This is a significant accomplishment from a year ago when we first attached Soldiers into our contracting offices. The initial intent was to improve their training, and when they were given a mission, we would detach them back to ECC to work specific deployment issues," Jackson explained. "What happens now is that we work closely with our counterparts at the ACC and our offices in taking the units until they are 'wheels-up' en route to their deployed location."He added that providing combat-ready contingency contracting Soldiers and units to our warfighting units is the result of a collaborative effort between ACC, ECC, MICC headquarters, MICC offices, and Soldiers.As officials manage the transition to align contingency contracting units with warfighters, Kuppers believes the alignment will give MICC Soldiers and the office to which they are attached greater predictability.The MICC operations directorate is already coordinating efforts for the deployment of a second team, the 735th CCT, from MICC-Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri."Our team is made up of Soldiers who have different operational backgrounds to include Field Artillery, Infantry, Finance and Logistics," said Maj. Chris Thomas, the team leader. "This will be the first contracting team from Fort Leonard Wood to deploy, which is a huge honor for our organization."The team will also support the 408th CSB once in place at its forward location.MICC officials are also in the process of coordinating a number of additional deployments in 2015."Soldiers are going to deploy at some point, that's understood," Kuppers said. "Aligning contingency contracting units to warfighting units allows the contracting office greater predictability to shift workload since the organization will know six months to a year out that they have a unit projected to go."As planning for the deployment of other MICC units continues, Sullivan advised that organizations should take full advantage of pre-deployment time."Contracting success down range will result when preparation meets opportunity," he said.